JAG program propels Coronado High School graduates toward productive adulthood

A view of the 2018-19 Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates senior class at Coronado High School, which is a part of the Scottsdale Unified School District. (Submitted photo)

A keystone of belief surrounding public education — in the United States of America — is the idea no matter where a person comes from through hard work, determination and dedication anyone can become whatever and whoever they want.

But as national test score tallies and comparisons continue to show American children performing well below their peers in other economically developed countries the foundation of public education is being shook to its core, experts say.

The Scottsdale Unified School District is not immune, community education advocates say.

“We believe that each and every student is a unique individual overflowing with talent,” said Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates President Graciela Garcia-Candia. “Our goal is to guide each student through the journey of identifying their career pathway and ensure they have a plan to reach their goals and make their dreams a reality.”

Found at Coronado High School, 7501 E. Virginia Ave., is a program fueled by a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, which is Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates, meant to find those positive pathways after high school graduation.

The JAG Program in action within the Scottsdale Unified School District, specifically Coronado High School. (Submitted photo)

“JAG’s mission is to help young people stay in school and to acquire the academic, personal, leadership and vocations skills they will need to be successful upon graduation,” said JAG Communications Director Nicole Porter.

“JAG prepares Arizona’s upcoming workforce with programs focusing on graduation, student achievement, youth empowerment, and career planning. The program goal is to decrease high school dropout rates, increase youth employment and postsecondary rates and reduce social services costs and unemployment issues.”

The JAG program was established in 1990 and is an accredited affiliate of Jobs for America’s Graduates and in that pursuit the nonprofit served more than 1,100 Arizona students throughout Maricopa and Pinal counties in fiscal year 2017-18.

“JAG addresses the growing problem related to high school dropout rates and disengaged youth in Arizona by engaging youth who are demonstrating early warning indicators including low attendance, low course performance, and high disciplinary challenges,” Ms. Porter explains. “Research and experience tell us that these issues are often symptomatic of other problems occurring outside of school.”

— JAG program Communications Director Nicole Porter.

At Coronado High School, Ms. Porter explains, JAG pairs struggling students with a mentor to help those children find a positive next chapter of their lives after high school graduation.

“JAG programs give young people the JAG Advantage as they complete high school and prepare to enter the workforce,” Ms. Porter outlines. “The JAG Advantage focuses on three core areas; project-based learning, trauma-informed care practices, and workforce development. These are based on a promise that JAG will deliver student-centered programming that helps the young person realize and achieve their full potential.”

The JAG program at Coronado High School is a year-long endeavor translating into college and trade school admissions or military inclusion, Ms. Porter explains.

“The JAG programs at Coronado High School operate as a year-round, for-credit class that provides intensive school-based programs August to May, and summer engagement opportunities in June and July, and 12 months of follow-up services,” she said. “The Coronado JAG class of 2017 had a 100% graduation rate and at the end of their 12-month follow-up, 95% of the graduates had a full-time positive outcome status which means they have full-time employment, serving in the military, attending post-secondary full-time, or a combination of full-time employment and school.”

For nearly 60 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage. (Submitted photo)

The Charro connection

Turns out, the Scottsdale Charros are staunch supporters of access to quality of public education and this current grant cycle — through The Charro Foundation — provided Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates a $2,500 grant to help provide for the Coronado program.

“All those experiences don’t happen without the support of those who are dedicated to changing lives and building relationships,” Mr. Garcia-Candia said. “A big thank you to the Charros Foundation for supporting the Coronado JAG students and helping us deliver the JAG Advantage to our students every day.”

Scottsdale Charros Executive Director Dennis Robbins says the group is happy to oblige.

Dennis Robbins

“JAG is a tremendous community asset for Coronado High School and for high schools across Arizona,” he said.

“I attended the JAG career development conference, high school students throughout Arizona learned and competed in job skills events. The energy and passion the students displayed at the conference was heartfelt and infectious. Students had the opportunity to demonstrate the workplace skills they learned throughout the year and network directly with potential employers and community volunteers.”

For nearly 60 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.

“JAG wants high school students to graduate, learn job-based skills and identify and pursue post-high school opportunities,” Mr. Robbins said. “JAG students learn real-world skills that can be used in an interview, at a first job and throughout their working careers. This program gives students the confidence and experience one needs to be successful after graduation.”

— Dennis Robbins, executive director of the Scottsdale Charros

As community advocates and public education supporters, Mr. Robbins says the Scottsdale Charros want to see Scottsdale Unified School District graduates succeed.

“The Charros want our SUSD students to be successful and productive in whatever they choose to do after they graduate from high school,” he pointed out. “Reading, writing and math are important subjects to learn in school, but being successful in life doesn’t end there. JAG students learn relevant life skills that are necessary for life after high school.”

Go to jagaz.org.

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable. Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the arrow in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment